In case you missed it, the new trailer for Ghostbusters (2016) has made most people queasy. The reaction to it was so bad that Sony literally started deleting negative comments on social media to hide the popular distaste for the film’s premise of an all female Ghostbuster team. Many women on blogs and various other social media also agree that an all female cast is stupid and hokey, and that’s because it is. If you have a good eye for detail and look at the preview you’ll notice a clone of the intro library scene from the first movie, and you’ll also see three white scientists being joined by a black person whose ‘tough’, an idea ripped directly from the first film. And now the secretary is a man instead of a women; a six foot model-like muscular alpha male. In case you’re not getting the big picture, this is what we call a denial of reality, where a fabricated reality replaces plausible reality because it's fun to live in Fantasyland.
The film is probably going to suck, but still make a ton of money due to (fake) IMDb reviews and a 'bought and paid for' media. Another film it reminds me of is the new Star Wars film, which was a very skillful re-skin of Episode IV: A New Hope with a woman playing the role of Luke Skywalker, supposedly his daughter or something. Strong opinions have been raised about this female lead because she literally can do no wrong, can fly the Millennium Falcon better than Han Solo even though she’s never stepped in it before, can defeat a Sith with little to no training, beats anyone up who challenges her, can pull a Jedi mind trick within minutes of discovering the force and repeatedly emphasizes that she doesn't need the help of a silly 'man'. We call this type of character a Mary Sue, a seemingly perfect character with no flaws, no shortcomings and no hurdles to overcome who saves the day over and over. Incidentally for those of you who have studied narrative and storytelling in general, one of the golden rules of getting people to invest in a character is giving that character something to overcome so that you can see that character progress over the course of the story. If they can do everything out of the box, then what’s the point?
I say all of this because a lot of misogyny is floating around the internet stating that Hollywood is becoming more and more pro-female and that this is part of some agenda. If you look at Hollywood history, even recently, there are TONS of good movies with female lead characters that display vulnerability, femininity and strength while remaining plausible enough. Here are some movies that prove it while at the same time making some pretty interesting albeit subtle suggestions about women and their role in society...
12 Punchline (1988)
11 Bridesmaids (2011)
10 Terminator 2 (1991)
9 Erin Brockovich (2000)
8 Kill Bill 1/2 (2003, 2004)
7 Alien/Aliens (1979/1986)
6 Giant (1956)
5 Basic Instinct (1993)
4 The Blind Side (2009)
3 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
2 Thelma and Louise (1994)
1 The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
This one takes the cake for me; the one movie I keep referring to when I see how poorly so many female characters are depicted in current films. I almost want to scream at these filmmakers to go see Silence of the Lambs so they can see how it’s done properly. Clarice Starling dares to meet with the extremely dangerous and genius Hannibal Lecter and actually succeeds in getting what she needs out of him, information as to the whereabouts of the Buffalo Bill, and at the end he respects her enough not to go after her! This character is feminine, cunning, intelligent, articulate, fearless, daring, the list goes on. She has moments of sheer panic and vulnerability, proving she’s human, and is willing to dive into the unknown with little to no regard for the consequences. Of course, her behavior is somewhat justified by a clearly traumatic past which gave her this fearlessness and an overpowering desire to help the needy, her character is partly justified by her history and is not necessarily a message of how women in general should behave. It’s a solid take on a female lead, that is engaging and extremely plausible. Is it so hard to ask that more female characters be written like this one? Granted Jodie Foster is one of the best female actresses of the 20th century, and is sadly criminally underused in films these days.
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